Open Love Letter to the Straight Men in My Life

jacob nordby2

Gay writer and speaker, Paul Boynton openly thanks the straight men in his life who helped him come out fully as himself

This letter is for the straight men in my life who loved me before I knew how to love myself, and who gently nudged, but never forced me to stand up and step out before I was ready. You were there in grade school and high school and college too. You were there after I was married and started having children and you were there so much longer than anyone would ever expect.

25 years after I finished college, I finally found the nerve to tell one of my best college buddies that I was gay.

Once in the seventh grade I rather vaguely told my best friend Bruce McLeod that I didn’t really feel any “special thing” for all the girls I seemed to be so flirtatious with. He knew exactly what I was saying even though I was still too naive to have figured it out for myself. Yet he only nodded and then nothing changed that day or that month or that year. And though he moved away a few years later, we remain grown-up, childhood friends even now.

Another time, 25 years after I finished college, I finally found the nerve to tell one of my best college buddies that I was gay. We were at Logan airport where we met from time to time when he was home for a visit. When I told him, he laughed and slapped his hand on the table and said “Me too.” In college, we had been together constantly – enjoyed the same things, had a perfectly matched, if slightly sarcastic sense of humor, loved Diana Ross and the Supremes and considered each other close friends. But apparently not quite close enough. He died a few years after our airport meeting and to this day I miss him and also miss the fun and mutual support we could, but never did have, because we were just too scared.

This love note is also for all the straight classmates I secretly admired, envied and even had a crush on. At the time, I didn’t wonder so much about why I got picked close to last for any sports activities but I did wonder why you and I were so different. It was as if you had some mysterious “man gene” that I was missing that explained why you liked Phys Ed and cars and Playboy magazine. It was the gene that caused guys to be rough and tough and to punched each other in the arm, and it explained why you spent most of your time thinking and talking about, (although I’ve learned not so much doing) things with girls.

And now together we are teaching each other that it’s not really about straight men or gay men or all the men in between, it’s simply about men being who they are: Honest to God Real Men.

Looking back I‘ve also figured out that I made a few of you very uneasy because you were secretly wrestling with the very same things that confused and troubled me. But with most of you this was simply a time of missed opportunities for us both. It’s true that you didn’t give me much of a chance but it’s also true that I didn’t give you much room either.

Well that’s water well over the damn and seems like a very long time ago. And lately, thanks to social media, we’ve begun to connect and talk to each other, really for the first time and guess what, the years have been kind and most of us make much better grownups then we did High School students.

And finally, this letter is for all the new straight friends I’ve made since I came out. We met when the playing field was more level and I was more real and more present. We became friends easily without a lot of effort and you have enriched my life, you make me laugh and we keep each other focused on the things that really count, like family, friends, kindness and love. And for me what’s the most fun about being your friend is that you never knew me as a make believe, straight man – You’ve only known me as an honest to God real man.


And that brings me to the real point of this open love letter. You guys have taught me more than you’ll ever know. Even when I wasn’t paying much attention I was learning. And this is what I learned: When my overactive, analytical mind quiets down, I see that we have more in common than not. Who knew that all this time we actually were on the same team? And now together we are teaching each other that it’s not really about straight men or gay men or all the men in between, it’s simply about men being who they are: Honest to God Real Men.


Photo Credit: The man in the picture is Jacob Nordby, one of those straight guys I mentioned who met me after I came out. Our friendship is a perfect example of what can happen when two guys with very different sexual orientations discover that true love takes many forms. It is powerful and good and makes the world a much sweeter place. Jacob is an author, founder of Blessed Are The Weird People and a champion of all who seek to show up as their own brilliant, unique selves in the world. Click here to read his recent Good Men Project article, “A Straight Guy’s Love Note To Gay People Everywhere”




Author’s Note: It’s important to emphasize that I speak only for myself and not for other gay men who grew up in different time and under different circumstances – many of whom do like football, were picked first and who still love to punch each other in the arm with an ease that to this day, I envy and admire.  And I am also sending a special love note to all the wonderful women in my life. You definitely know who you are and even though you could tell a story or two, I am, for the moment, hopeful you won’t. XO, Paul.

About Paul Boynton

Paul Boynton is the President & CEO of The Moore Center. He also blogs for The Huffington Post and The Good Men’s Project, is a columnist for the NH Business Review and the host of “Begin with Yes” on Empower Radio. He is the Chief Optimist and author of several books including Begin with Yes. His Facebook community, which will soon surpass 1 million followers, is a source of inspiration for those who are taking steps toward a more meaningful life.

You can read more at or on Facebook.


  1. Brady McElligott says:

    I have come to the same conclusion: we are all men. We all have the same “plumbing”, we all end up with the same prostate problems, we all have hairy bodies…we are all “men”. It’s time we all realized that.

  2. The best friends I’ve ever had have all been straight and have been, like you said, always more supportive and encouraging than I was to myself. They really are a gift!

  3. mark McRoberts says:

    Really…really? I have bought and read two of your books and I’m sorry but I have tried and tried and I have been there for friends over and over. Even though I have been having a low week this morning I still called a friend who left a puzzeling FB post and I contacted and her and she called. She found out she has colon cancer. She goes to make a plan on Monday. I listen to her and I expressed my love and concern for her and her family. But when I reach out to my friends I just get ignored and so I’m just done. I tried your YES to the good but there is not much yes in my life as an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, a macro prolactoma brain tumor, not testosterone and too much female hormones so I have brests of an 80 year old. Plus numerous complications of all kinds of degenerative disease. Oh life is yes yes yes…….hell NO life sucks and being 58 with nothing to look forward to other than death.

    • Dear Mark, First of all I am sorry that you have so many challenges to deal with right now. And also sorry that you didn’t find my book helpful. I have learned that my writing doesn’t resonate with everyone and that makes sense! As you may know I offer free downloads of “Begin with Yes” to anyone dealing with unemployment or other financial challenges. If you purchased my books, please let me either send you a refund or make a gift to your favorite charity. Just send me a note telling me what you’d like me to do and I will take care of it. ( I am also sorry that your friend is having to deal with cancer and sincerely hope her treatments go well. I will look forward to hearing from you. Respectfully, Paul

  4. Thank you for your wonderful letter Paul! I wish there were more people in my life that knew how to share their feelings!

  5. Paul, your letter is very touching. So many of us go through life feeling like we are missing out because we are too afraid to be ourselves and live our lives freely. What’s so nice about your story is, your straight friends stuck by you, so many gay people do not have that luxury. You are lucky to have that love and support from them. I have always been a supporting and loving gay man, not necessarily out to the world but it seems to me, kindness and friendship from straight men in the area in which I reside, does not exist, this is very sad. I’m strong though, I do not let it get me down. I think about it sometimes and ask why but I hold my head up and live my life to the fullest. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us and continue to look to the positive.

    • Thanks for your beautiful letter. It’s an interesting journey and we all have our unique experiences. But your note reminds me that love and kindness to bring us together! Thanks for writing Mark! Paul

  6. Mike stearns says:

    I have had many of the same experiences that the writer did but could not express them so well. Thank you.

  7. What a wonderful letter. It has inspired me to make sure I thank my brothers who have always loved me for who I am and my class mates at an all boy high school who in their own way embraced and loved me. There are so many straight men in my life that have showered me with love. Having gratitude for them and the courage they showed is cracking my heart wide open. Thank you for this Paul!

  8. Releasing this and using your voice and your heart to connect in and share and to honor your authenticity and soul, is good work. When you say YES to this light and truth, and you let go, as you have, you feel freer and you create a capacity within for more. Thrilled for you Paul! I am not a man but I feel your love too.

  9. Carl Greene says:

    Brilliant insight. Paul’s article resonated with me. I will make a more conscience to pass along appreciation to the straight men who have positively impacted my life journey. Carl

  10. Brilliant insight. This article resonated with me and I will make a conscious effort to more fully appreciate the straight men in my life who have positively impacted my life journey. Carl


  1. […] Boynton wrote a counterpart article:  “Open Love Letter to the Straight Men In My Life”. Read that […]

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